Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beauties and the Beasts


It's near the end of the summer and butterflies and bugs are having a good time playing in my garden and gardens all over the known blogging world! If you don't mind, let me share with you some of my beauties and beasts. Remember this, even a beauty can look beastly! If you want a really good look at them, just click on the photo and they will enlarge.

The regulars:

Swallowtail Butterfly found 'sleeping' on Liatris spicata very early in the morning. Carrots and parsley plants draw them to the garden and phlox and milkweed provide nectar.


First or second instar larva of Black Swallowtail munching on the parsley.


Swallowtail caterpillar also on the parsley. Look at that fierce face!



Milk weed Bugs congregating on a Asclepias tuberosa seed pods. Mildweed bugs are members of the true bug family of plant juice suckers! They use their proboscis to pierce the seed pods and eat away! Their job is to keep the aggressive Milkweed population in check and are considered harmless. They've been removed several times, only to return! I want the Butterfly-Weed to survive!

The adult Milkweed bug has wings and more striking coloring than the immature nymph. His Halloween color screams to birds, "Don't eat me, I taste nasty!"


Unknown flying creature on Zinnia leaves.


Gulf Fritillary: Apparently, the males cruise for females all day long! The host plant is the Passion-Vine, so it fits! The larva is generally orange with black branched spines and greenish stripes. Thank you Frances (Faire Garden) for id-ing this beauty!


This is a giant Fly-bee; just look at those wings! It could be a fly or it could be a bee! The list of visitors to Monarda is long: Short and Long tongued bees, butterflies, skippers,moths, wasps, beetles and of course, the hummingbird. So what is the Fly-bee? You decide or identify!


Someone please name me! This is a frequent visitor to the garden.



They love the Rudbeckia hirta,


and the Zinnia and each other.


I think they are skippers; but which one? Can you see the tiny pale spiders? Enlarge for better look!



No one can mistake this frequent and beautiful garden visitor;

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with it's face deep in the Balloon Flower plant!

Argiope aurantia commonly known as Black and Yellow Garden Spider lives her day upside down waiting for prey to come along. You can see her video here. She has moved her web several times and seems to have found her ideal space among the Rudbeckia hirta and butterfly alley!

Thank you for stopping by and checking out the beauties and their beastly friends! They weren't too beastly, now were they?

Gail



52 comments:

  1. Great photos, Gail, especially the caterpillar--he looks as if he is going to jump off the page! I applaud you for knowing the names of so many insects as well as their different stages. I've decided I should have taken more biology in school:) But it is fun to look at all these little creatures, isn't it? I've begun to notice them so much more, and I've learned from reading other blogs about the benefits many them provide for plants and for us. A year ago I would have classified most of them as "icky bugs."

    Left a comment on your last post--what a wonderful time you must have had with fellow bloggers!

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  2. Rose,

    Thanks, I love reading your comments and now I have two! As you can see I don't know many of the butterflies, just the big, good looking ones that we all want to have in a gardens! The little workhorses that flitter about all day long...I can't identify! A book is necessary. A good insect id book and one on butterflies and moths. Any recommendations?

    We had a good time visiting, Frances and I. The TN bloggers were also a lot of fun to spend time with. When I tell my none blogging friends about any of this....blogging, visiting, going to Fling,...they either look at me like I am making it up or like I have crossed into some brave new world!

    Gail

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  3. Hi Gail, I love the photos. I'm still amazed at how beautiful you can make these insects and butterflies look. I love the little butterflies... not such a fan of the milkweed bugs. They look scary!

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  4. We talk about the sweet little bugs of summer and spring---but we tend to describe the bugs of Autumn as annoying sometimes---or they just don't look friendly. Flies, gnats, and skeeters bug us to death. The butterflies and bees usually leave us along.

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  5. What great pictures! Even made the spider(YUK!) look almost cute. Roses and Lilacs has a great book and butterflies-I am waiting for the name. Won't it be fun to learn more names. You have done your homework on knowing what plants they like during their life cycles. I need to learn more about that.

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  6. Hi Gail,
    Phantastic photo post as always, and you have a lot of good activity going on down your way! That Swallowtail caterpillar looks suspiciously like Mothra if you remember that from your childhood. She was always one of my favorite 'monsters' of the Japanese movies. :-)

    We've seen that milkweed bug around, but my Asclepias plants are so puny that they don't have much to work with... Next year, I'll plant some plants....

    That's some kind of wasp on your Zinnia, don't ask me what kind, but it's a wasp.

    That Gulf Fritillary is a cool butterfly, but is that really Lantana it's visiting? I'm not familiar with Passion Vine other than referring to Passiflora, the common Passion Flower vine. You may have just introduced me to something I did not know about!

    That's a Bee on the Monarda (see my recent posts for something similar), though yep, it's hard to tell sometimes!

    As for the rest, looks like a Moth to me, but we sure don't turn up our noses at them by any means. They have their place in the overall scheme of things in the garden.

    That swallowtail is superb! We have them around now, but just haven't gotten them on the cam yet, but are they ever spectacular?

    I found a garden spider web back by the tomatoes and basil yesterday, but I didn't see the web maker though. I didn't disturb the web though, because we love having them around Contrary to some folks, I think they're really pretty! But I'm not spider phobic, unless it involves Brown Recluses who are an increasing problem in our area. Once again, global warming matters!

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  7. You're having your own happy hour with many beauties and some beasties too.:-) Lovely pics as always Gail! I'm afraid I can't help you with identifying some of them as the insects over here are very different from yours and I do not know half as much about them as I would like.

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  8. Hi Gail, is that a teaser with the little skipper? I won't go there after our last go around! HA Skipper is good enough for me, we kajillions of them everywhere and I just love their energy. Your caterpillar photo looks like Thomas the Tank Engine also, don't you think? The insects add another dimension to the garden. Did you get rain last night? None for us unfortunately. And The Financier even washed the car! ;-<

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  9. Hi Gail ~ Great photos and so interesting about all the beautiful beasties. I saw some milkweed bugs a while back and was wondering what they were. I didn't have time to look them up and now I don't need to. Thanks a bunch.

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  10. dp, The milkweed bugs are quite Halloween ugly! You know that someplace on the internet someone is selling them! I kid you not! Thanks, glad you like the photos! Enjoy the rain! Gail

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  11. anna,

    The biting itching ones are the worst! I am still recovering from chiggers! We look at the beautiful butterflies and forget the larva are often really ugly and sometimes threatening looking! I'll be over, I've taken a few days off to spend time with my sweetie, he's just back from a trip to the Rockies with our son.

    Gail

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  12. beckie,

    When you get the name of the book, please let me know! You can email me. I don't mind people correcting me if I get the names wrong, some of those bugs look similar! It's been fun learning about these creatures, search engines are the best! Although, I still use all my reference books...including a dictionary. We are celebrating rain right now and boy does it feel wonderful!

    Gail

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  13. IVG,

    Yes the moths, caterpillars and so many of the strange creatures from old movies look familiar now! Don't you think that Klingons look like horseshoe crabs?

    I took a long weekend off from blogging, so I am way behind in commenting and haven't seen any new posts! Just tired and the spouse came home from a week in the Rockies with son, so we hung out.

    Spiders don't bother me at all and although Brown Recluse is supposed to be a problem here I haven't run into her or the Black Widow. I will be extra careful with the firewood when I bring it in!

    I can't identify moths and butterflies, just a few and even then, it is easy to mix them up! The Gulf Fritillary is there for the nectar or to pose for a photo, she looks good on the Lantana! Her caterpillars are obviously happily munching on the Passion Flower Vine (I forgot the flower) but there are not any flowers to sup on!

    IVG, it is finally raining, really raining! Thank you Fay!

    Gail

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  14. ye,

    I couldn't help but think of your recent post, all the butterflies and creatures nectaring up to the bar....this time of year there are just so many bugs about! But we do have some beauties, don't we! A bug id book is going to be necessary for me! Thanks for stopping by!

    Gail

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  15. Frances,

    He is Thomas! Do you mind? If I had a better memory I would have linked to you there, too! He has grown just the teeniest bit as had the instar larva. Don't you love that name! But cousins or siblings have joined him! It is getting very exciting on the parsley...there is even a cutie pie on the bronze fennel! Usually that is where they all congregate!

    Do please id the butterflies or moths! I have no idea what they are! They look like moths to me!

    It is raining as I write, it is a wonderful sound. Please remind me not to complain this winter when it rains all the time!

    Gail

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  16. cindy,

    Thank you. A really nice outcome of blogging is the great exchange of information! But getting to know others is the best! Don't you think so?

    Gail

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  17. Wow Gail, your garden is alive with activity! So many beautiful winged creatures, and some nasties too! Sorry about the chiggers! I'm feeling itchy just thinking about them.

    I'm so glad for you that the skies have finally opened and given you some much-needed rain.

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  18. Great photos! Sorry about the milkweed bugs. I would just use insecticidal soap if you can. Remove the caterpillars if there are any first then put them back the next day. I definitely need to add some parsley to the garden next year for those swallowtail caterpillars.

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  19. gardengirl,

    This time of year there is so much activity. Imagine not knowing or being able to enjoy life at this level? Even though we have to suit up in protective gear (long sleeves and pants in very hot and muggy weather) to garden, it's worth it to be a part of nature, to know the plants and the creatures that sustain them and they sustain. A little itch is worth it, yes?

    Thankfully it has rained some!

    Gail

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  20. Dave,

    Absolutely good advice! I have a photo in my head of Frances knocking them off the Butterfly Weed with the watering can! Oh to have a video of it!
    Gail

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  21. I think they are all beauties but don't know them all well. Not your mystery one for sure. We got nearly one inch of rain. I am heading to the garden to plant-yeah! Hopefully it will stay awhile. You should've gotten some too.

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  22. Tina,
    We did and even a bit of thunder, what a joyful sound!
    Out to do the same!

    gail

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  23. Hi Gail, loved your blog! Caterpillars too, that's great.

    I think one of your butterflies is a long-tailed skipper, maybe another a tawny-edged skipper? That's a big maybe on both. Whatever they are, thanks for sharing the photos.
    Marnie

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  24. Marnie,

    You are terrific, I did think they were skippers but iding the little beastie-beauties is tough for a novice like me! There is a rumor floating about that you have a great butterfly book to recommend, is this so?

    They are fun to watch in the garden!

    Gail

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  25. Gail ~ I'm so glad to hear you got some rain. Enjoy!
    And you are right, while the exchange of information is good, it's the friendships formed which really make blogging enjoyable. It's amazing how quickly you can become connected to people you have never met, that live all over the world, and share your similar interests.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Cindy

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  26. Cindy, Thank you, it is already on it's way to be great! You are adding to it, more icing on this great cupcake!

    Gail

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  27. No, they weren't beastly at all. I enjoyed them! I especially love the caterpillars and I look for them in my garden. Your photos are magnificient.

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  28. I think you have two different types of skipper in the photos... Yellowpatch skipper and Long tailed skipper. I am guessing the third from last to be the Longtailed but without a closer look, I cannot tell. The first pic is the Gray Hairstreak....

    I am glad you id the Milkweed bug! I spotted two of them on the butterfly weed that came up voluntarily for me! I just now left the computer and went to check on the weed and found lots of tiny yellowish orange eggs on them! Yuck, I squash them and hope I got them all. Had to do a rush job as it is thundering out and I needed to get backside and finished on the puter then shut her down!

    I have a pretty good little book I use to id the flying flowers...

    “National Audubon Society Pocket Guide: Familiar Butterflies of North America”... I cannot remember if I found it at our bird store or at the book store but am sure you can find it online if you would like one.... $9.95....

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  29. skeeter, YIPPEE...can you hear me where you are? I am so glad to hear you have rain! We do, too! Thanks for the id on the butterflies! I am going to order a few books from amazon this afternoon! I will check yours out while I am there!

    Gail

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  30. What a beautiful post, Gail. I'm also glad to hear that the drought stricken areas of the South finally got the rain it so badly needed but I'm sorry to learn of the flooding and damage.

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  31. Gail, Marnie's book is the same one Skeeter recommended. National Audubon Society Pocket Guide: Familiar Butterflies of North America. And it is about 4"x6", perfect size to carry with you. Also, Marnie's father has given lectures and talks all over on how to attract butterflies etc. to your garden. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get him to give a talk at Spring Fling. He lives in N. IL.

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  32. Beautiful. That orange butterfly on orange Lantana is so pretty. I never find that green and yellow caterpiller on my Parsley. I keep looking. He sure is an interesting looking little creature. I wish he would come visit me.

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  33. hello,

    still no rain to speak of here in leiper's fork, but soon hopefully.
    i really like the contrast between beauties and beasties. the photo of caterpillar is amazing , very clear and three-d feel to it.
    all images were fun to see and read about!

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  34. Ha,I'm right behind my sister here... small world. Loved this post of all your garden critters. I'm so partial to all the little fellows that share the joy of my garden with me... having a camera at the ready has definitely increased my wonder of them. YOU, Miss Gail, have done a fine job of capturing your little beasties AND beauties.

    I do think one of the skippers is a longtailed... it has the blueish body. I have a butterfly book for Florida... it helps me to eliminate the possiblities. If I see it here it will be in that book.

    I've always wondered what those orange and black bugs are on the milkweed and now I know... thanks. I've also thought they were harmless... hmmmm.

    Your rudbeckia is still looking great... I never tire of seeing it.
    Thanks for a fun post.
    Have a great night... glad to hear you're getting rain.
    Meems

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  35. carolyn gail,

    We have needed this rain desperately, Nashville was moving from moderate to severe drought. It's incredible that Fay brought us relief while causing so much damage to Florida.

    I am glad you liked the post...it was a fun one t put together.

    gail

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  36. Beckie,

    That is a great idea. I hope you give Mr McGregor's Daughter the info! The book sounds perfect for carrying out to the garden! Thank yo!

    gail

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  37. Eve,

    It took until just this past week for it to show up and also there is one on the bronze fennel! I have never seen a chrysalis after they leave. Maybe this year is your swallowtail caterpillar year! Hoping so!

    Gail

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  38. marmee,

    I know you have had rain since you posted, the map looks like it rained all over middle Tennessee. I walked in it to celebrate! It was a great walk!

    So glad you liked the contrast of beauty and beast!

    gail

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  39. meems,

    Well thank you, the little beasteis and beauties are quite the showmen of the late fall garden. The activity level is high.

    I know you posted a photo of the Black and Yellow Garden Spider last week (?). You might like this story...I was in the garden looking for the perfect photo of a few butterflies when I noticed our Black and Yellow spider was behcaving in a most unusual manner. Little gnats were flying very close to her web and as they got closer she took a leg and plucked a web thread causing the web to vibrate. It moved back and forth and and captured the gnat. She was a clever girl!

    The Milkweed Bug is considered a pest only if you are trying to grow milkweed plants... They haven't any natural predators because they taste bitter to birds. But really I don't think they are going to keep my Butterfly Weed from growing or producing seeds.

    The rudbeckia is still smiling and making us smile. I would have to redo the front bed were they to disappear from my garden! I already think about doing that!

    Always a pleasure to have you stop by!

    gail

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  40. Gail, you are right. I saw 4 of those spiders today while working in the garden (I had a long all day-er). Over the past few weeks I've had fun watching the smaller critters trapped in their zig-zag web. So interesting to observe when they start eating. It's fascinating how much buggy activity is going on in the summer time.
    Talk soon... Meems

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  41. Kim,

    I haven't many beasties in the garden..and not as many caterpillars as I would like. Which do you have?
    Magnificent! Wow! Thank you for your very very kind compliment!

    Gail

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  42. Hi Gail, yes I have a field guide to butterflies. I have become the great-butterfly-know-it-all;)

    You all let me know when you get sick of me butting in and identifying everything in sight.
    Marnie

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  43. Marnie,

    I am pretty sure we would never get sick of you, ever and no way no how do you but in! Keep up the id-ing on the butterflies, moths and caterpillars. What do you think about Beckie's idea that your dad give a talk to the Flingers when we meet in Chicago?

    Gail

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  44. Well, I'd have to say you have an abundance of beauties with maybe only one beast (the milkweed bugs). The first swallowtail shot & the swallowtail caterpillar took my breath. Just beautiful. It's good you have so much activity of this nature in your garden as I haven't seen it in mine and was a little worried...

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  45. Hi Gail,
    I saw this wonderful post when it was new but figured that it would be even more fun when the comments rolled in - and they're not only fun but educational.

    Thanks for the information that the Milkweed bugs suck the plant juices. My tropical milkweeds are struggling to rebloom; I saw a Monarch fluttering around the plants on Sunday, then saw the Milkweed bugs at work on Monday. In a less harsh year that attack might not matter, but this year the Halloween bugs are on my soapy-water bucket list.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  46. Hello Gail, I am just catching up with my reading of blogs since my computer was fixed. I love seeing your beauties and beasties. It seems they are out and about here too. It looks as though you have had such a fun filled summer with your trip to Chicago and meeting with other TN bloggers. What a grand summer. I have enjoyed seeing all you've done.

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  47. Annie,

    So glad you came back and that the comments were helpful. I love reading comments, to my blog or any I visit! People are generous, funny, curious and generally just delightful!

    I turned on The Weather Channel, it was an interesting experience, but it seems that Texas is scheduled for some big rain soon. Glad to hear that. The bit of drought we had was enough for me! So many parts of the country are worse off than Nashville!

    Gail

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  48. Lisa,

    Welcome back! The beauties and beasties were fun. Blogging has sure allowed us to connect and share our excitement about bugs, flowers, soil, all things gardening and some non gardening. Not many people in my day to day life would get excited over a photo of a swallowtail caterpillar like other garden bloggers do!

    BTW, your new garden creature is wonderful!

    Gail

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  49. Gail your pictures are SO BEAUTIFUL! I especially like the catepillar - he looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland!

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  50. Gail, your photographs are just beautiful! What camera do you use? As far as your butterflies, I'm jealous that you get the Gulf Fritillary! I was looking up the Skippers, but there are so many! However, here's a site you might want to visit. I'm almost positive the one spread out on the rudbekia hirta is a male Baracoa Skipper - Polites baracoa. Check out this site (you'll have to scroll down a bit)... http://www.pbase.com/tmurray74/florida_butterflies

    You gave me a reason to poke around. I love butterflies! :-)

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  51. Lynnie, Hi dear...thanks for the comment and compliment. It's been fun to take photos again. I owe you a long email!

    gail

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  52. Shady,

    I use two camera...mine which is a Fujifilm s5000. It looks and feels like a SLR camera but is digital. I love how it feels in my hand...easier for an old slr shooter to transition to. Also my husbands Canon SD700 IS Powershot. Both take nice photos but I am sure there are newer ones on the market!

    Oops, I forgot to thank you I was so busy with camera info. I love the opportunity to research plants and bugs, too!

    Gail

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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